Attendance: 28, 734
Two defensive mistakes handed Doncaster Rovers the spoils at a freezing Pride Park as goals from Billy Sharp and James Coppinger saw the visitors leave with three points for the second year in a row. The on loan Sheffield United striker gave Doncaster the lead in the first half after Jay McEveley gave the ball away and The Rams dominated for long periods of the second half but failed to force a worthwhile save from Neil Sullivan. A horrendous mix up between Stephen Bywater and Jay McEveley again gifted the ball to Rovers deep into injury time and Coppinger made no mistake to slot past Bywater and ensure the victory.
Derby made two changes to the side that picked up their first away victory of the season at Vicarage Road last weekend with Dean Leacock coming in for the injured Frederik Stoor meaning a move to rightback for Paul Connolly. Gary Teale was also reintroduced to the starting line-up in place of Lee Hendrie who dropped to the bench and there was also a place for the returning Rob Hulse amongst the substitutes. It was a freezing afternoon and it looked as though someone had forgotten to put the undersoil heating on with large areas of surface ice on the pitch giving the playing area a white tint.
The Rams started the match at a high pace and Paul Green was close to giving Derby the lead against his former side when he got on the end of a deep cross to the far post but he was caught between shooting and pulling the ball back and his volley fell in between the two and passed across the face of goal. All the pressure was coming from the home side but Doncaster knocked the ball around well and looked to catch them on the break although the final ball was lacking when they did break forward.
Somewhat against the run of play the visitor`s took the lead on twenty-one minutes and it was a familiar tale for the Derby backline as they inflicted the damage on themselves. Jay McEveley gifted the ball to James Coppinger in the middle of the park and he in turn fed Billy Sharp to run into the area where he cut back inside unchallenged and fired low under Stephen Bywater. It was a well taken goal but the lack of challenge gifted him far too much time to compose himself.
Gary Teale threatened for Derby when he cut inside and fired in a shot from twenty yards but it was wide of the mark and DJ Campbell turned neatly on the edge of the area before firing in an effort that Neil Sullivan saved low to his right. Mark Wilson had the last chance of the half when a corner was half cleared to him and he took the ball on his thigh before looping in a volley from the edge of the area that Stephen Bywater did well to tip over at full stretch as the ball looked to be dropping into the top corner.
Stephen Pearson looked to have a chance as the second half got underway but he was denied by Shackell's last-ditch challenge as he lined up his effort and with the pressure again coming from the home side Nigel Clough looked to change things up front with the introduction of Rob Hulse and Chris Porter in place of DJ Campbell and Paul Dickov. Hulse nearly had an immediate impact when a Gary Teale corner was headed down inside the area but he couldn`t quite reach the bouncing ball and it fell into the grateful hands of Sullivan.
The play was all one way although the chances were not coming for the home side and Paul Green was denied by another last ditch tackle after Chris Porter`s flick looked to have set him up and the former Motherwell striker got his head to the resulting corner but headed narrowly over the top. Lee Croft was then introduced in place of Robbie Savage with twenty five minutes to go.
A clever touch from Paul Green played Rob Hulse in on goal but the big striker took a touch allowing Sullivan to come off his line and dive at his feet with the ball going behind for a corner which came to nothing. The Rams were camped inside the Doncaster half but the creativity needed to unlock their stubborn defence was lacking and the visitors were dealing well with a series of crosses and balls into the area.
Four minutes of injury were signalled and there was no let up in the possession but a long clearance led to the second goal for Rovers after a horrendous mix up at the back from Derby. Stephen Bywater rushed to get the ball back into play and took a throw in in the right back area, his throw had to much on it and Jay McEveley was always struggling to the control the ball and lost out to James Coppinger and he ran to the edge of the area before calmly slotted past Bywater to seal the victory in front of the travelling fans.
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